• ‘Sash factor’ boosts chances of PH queens

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    Three of the reigning Binibining Pilipinas queens were given an exclusive send-off party at Novotel Manila-Araneta Center on Tuesday. Organized by Binibining Pilipinas Charities, Inc. (BPCI), family, friends, media, sponsors and well-wishers were invited to show their love and support for the country’s representatives to the grandest beauty pageants in the world.

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    Scheduled to leave one after the other—starting off with 2017 Binibining Pilipinas Grand International Elizabeth Clenci, who flew to Vietnam on Thursday for her October 25 competition—the gathering proved to be an afternoon well spent for the queens who basked in the encouragement of their kababayan.

    Peace ambassador
    With the advocacy and mission of Miss Grand International (MGI) being “Stop the War and Violence,” Clenci was aptly appointed National Peace Ambassador by Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza on August 24.

    The 26-year-old beauty, whose father is Romanian and whose mother hails from Agusan del Norte, said it is her goal to inspire everyone to be ambassadors of peace, unity and understanding.

    “Peace isn’t achieved by just one person, one leader, one influencer. Each and everyone of us plays an equally important role. And I think that’s where equality starts, knowing that you—no matter your age, race, religion or sexual preference—are an equal and just as significant as anyone else, to make difference in this world.”

    Clenci will be the first to compete among the Binibini queens in the fifth edition of Miss Global International on October 25 at the Vinpearl Phu Quoc Resort ans Villas Convention Hall.

    PHOTO BY RUY MARTINEZ

    Not much into social media, the music major-bassist was surprised upon learning she currently leads online votes among MGI candidates.

    Clenci succeeds Nicole Cordoves who placed first runner-up in the Thai-created pageant, held in Las Vegas last year. Cordoves will host the finals night as Indonesian titleholder Ariska Outri Pertiwii bequeaths the crown to her to the winner, hopefully, our inspiring Filipina beauty.

    Lady pilot
    Scheduled to fly out next is 2017 Binibining Pilipinas Globe Nelda Ibe. She leaves on October 22 for the pageant in Tirana, Albania on November 3.

    The lady pilot, who joined another beauty pageant before placing in Binibining Pilipinas at her first attempt, said it is harder to fly a plane than maintain. This was her clever answer when asked to compare her profession and new vocation.

    In 2016, Philippine bet Nichole Manalo was declared Miss Dream Girl of the World, as the first Filipina Miss Globe 2015 Ann Lorraine Colis crowned her successor Dimple Patel of India.

    Miss Globe’s advocacy and focus is culture and heritage, and Ibe said she is ready for the contest what with valuable tips given to her by Colis and Manalo.

    Asked if her TV hosting chores in “Wowowin” has not gotten in the way of her pageant preparations, the AB English Literature graduate of Tarlac State University who then went to Clark Aviation School, said that she promoted her advocacy and the Miss Globe pageant in her appearances, which practically served as good practice for the competition.

    Ibe is a volunteer of Gawad Kalinga and hopes to be able to continue this mission of building shelters for the homeless through her reign, and if she is fortunate to with the international crown.

    Admitting she has big shoes to fill after Colis and Manalo, Ibe related, “Their advice is just for me to be myself and enjoy the contest. I studied what I can about Albania—their culture and heritage— and it has given me ideas on how I can best merge them with the culture of the Philippines,” she told The Manila Times.

    Social media’s girl
    Maria Angelica or Mariel de Leon’s strong presence on social media may have attracted followers as well as bashers, but the daughter of actors Christopher de Leon and Sandy Andolong asserts the importance of online communication channels all the same.

    “I love social media, especially Instagram. We’re here because we have a platform,” she began explaining her stance. “People should not be afraid [of voicing their opinions on issues]but they also need to be aware that they are not the same as everyone else, so expect both agreements and disagreements with what you post.”

    Although she said during the Binibining Pilipinas pageant that she is veering away from acting, intending to focus her singing, the pretty showbiz royalty said it was “crazy” to pass up the opportunity to play leading lady to Coco Martin in the remake of “Ang Panday” — one of the signature franchises of the late movie king Fernando Poe Jr.— for the Metro Manila Film Festival.

    “Who would not want to become the leading lady of Coco Martin? He asked me and it’s crazy to decline the offer because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she told The Manila Times.

    De Leon was quick to clarify that her preparations for the Miss International pageant in Japan in November have not been affected by shooting the movie.

    “My shooting schedule is only on weekends. It’s not even thrice-a-week schedule, just once or twice, so my training and preparations for the pageant went on as planned,” she said.

    She further said she will definitely get back to her music after the pageant—that is if she misses out on a back-to-back win with reigning Miss International Kylie Verzosa.

    De Leon leaves on October 25, and hopes to become the seventh Filipina Miss International on November 14. If she wins the crown, she will join the elite circle of Miss International winners, namely, Gemma Cruz in 1964, Aurora Pijuan in 1970, Mimilanie Marquez in 1979, Precious Lara Quigaman in 2005, Bea Rose Santiago in 2013 and Verzosa in 2016. Moreover, if de Leon wins the crown, she will effectively tie the Philippines with Venezuela who currently has seven winners.

    Pageant-ready
    Clenci considers the queens’ Dale Carnegie training as the most important part of their training. She describes it as “life-changing.”

    “The training has molded me into an incredible human being. For me, its [effect]is beyond the pageant,” she said.

    On the part of Ibe and de Leon, they said their training on hair and make-up has been most enjoyable and unforgettable, and will surely be helpful from their pre-pageant activities all the way to their respective pageants.

    Meanwhile, the trio of beauties agree that the crown and their titles did not change them in any way. The only advantage they have now is that when they talk about their advocacies or their passionate stand on issues, people listen.

    “I think people should break down the stereotype of beauty queens that we’re just here to be beautiful, wave to the crowd, and things like that. We’re here to make a stand and inspire and influence people by using our voices because we have this pedestal from where we can reach out to a bigger audience,” de Leon said.

    2017 Binibining Pilipinas Supranational Chanel Olive Thomas who is half-Australian was present at the sendoff although her contest in Poland is still scheduled on December 1. Reigning Binibining Pilipinas Intercontinental Katarina Rodriguez and Miss Universe Philippines 2017 Rachel Peters were unable to make it to the event.

    “Normally, the candidate to the Miss Universe pageant is given a solo send-off,” explained a staffer of BPCI to The Manila Times. The staffer further said that since the unfortunate shooting incident in Las Vegas on Sunday (Monday in Manila) there has been no announcement from Miss Universe Organization if the coronation night will take place there as planned on November 26.

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